Salesforce Health Cloud and EHR Systems: Mortal Combat and Reasons for Optimism?

Salesforce Health Cloud and EHR Systems

“Customer experience has become the defining line between companies that grow and companies that fall behind.” Adam BlitzerEVP and GM of Sales and Service Clouds, Salesforce.

The transformation of healthcare and life sciences has necessitated a profound technology shift in order to handle industry complexities. Digital healthcare represents a successful combination of technology advancement, which increases efficiency of healthcare delivery and makes it more personalized.

In 2015, Salesforce stepped into this new and exciting area of healthcare with Health Cloud, a web-based CRM platform focusing on patient relationship management and improved patient experience. Its main feature includes connectivity between patients and caregivers, making healthcare seamless.

In 2016, Salesforce made another step ahead aiming to improve the lives of professionals, this time in healthcare. Now, their thriving product Health Cloud is gaining momentum globally.

As the name itself suggests, Salesforce Health Cloud is there to perform some magic in healthcare, using the state-of-the-art cloud technologies which make it so efficient, convenient, accessible, and, importantly for the sensitive matter of health, secure. You can find more information about the nature of Health Cloud in one of our previous articles.

Still, Salesforce is far from being the only player in this buzzing field of healthcare. Presence of such titans of the IT world as Google (their now discontinued Google Health service), IBM (IBM Watson Health), or Microsoft (with their Microsoft HealthVault), along with the mounting number of digital health apps now exceeding 300,000, proves the soaring demand for digitalization in medicine. At Salesforce, they are ready for competition, and moreover they are embracing opportunities for partnership, the trend illustrated by the capability of Health Cloud to pull data from the EHR systems.

But, what is the difference between the functionality that Salesforce Health Cloud and the EHR vendors have to offer?

Who is who: Salesforce Health Cloud vs. EHR

While some might see a degree of redundancy in the functionality of Health Cloud and EHR systems, as they do overlap in certain areas, the purpose for each differs drastically.

The history of EHR started in the 1970s when the hospitals began to replace their paper records with electronic ones. EHR vendors have revolutionized medical record-keeping. We have outlined the advantages of EHRs in our blog.

While giving EHRs well-deserved credit, some healthcare experts are doubtful if the systems will live up to the current industry’s expectations. EHRs appear to be static, offering little if any room for customization or connectivity, and for this reason are failing to face competition from Salesforce Health Cloud.

In March 2018, Sage Growth Partners (SGP) published a report titled ‘Are EHRs Up to the Task?’ According to the results of the survey, 64% out of the responding 100 healthcare executives said that EHRs are failing to serve as the technology that provides value-based care (VBC). So, what is it exactly that EHRs are lacking? And is Salesforce Health Cloud capable of meeting those needs?

VBC Success

Another aspect in which EHRs seem to be missing the mark is achieving VBC, that is patient-oriented care, in which providers are rewarded for measurable patient health outcomes rather than being paid for the total amount of services delivered. In other words, VBC for healthcare organizations means more data analysis, altering hospital processes for the sake of better patient care, adopting evidence-based care standards, giving the consumers new insights into care, etc. Thus, some of the most important VBC challenges are:

  1. Interoperability
  2. Social Determinants of Health
  3. Patient Engagement
  4. Coordinating Stakeholders
  5. Data Analytics to Support Risk-Based Contracts

Unfortunately, EHR systems have not proved to be sufficient to meet those challenges. Niki Buchanan, PHM Leader at Philips Wellcentive, explains that “They don’t have the insights that are needed in order to take the right proactive care.” These systems do not help determine who the highest-risk patients are, where they are in their care journey, etc. as EHRs simply have not been designed to perform those functions.

Being a part of a massive CRM system, Health Cloud is all about “patient relationships, not records,” said Dr. Joshua Newman. It views patients as customers and serves to cater to them in a revolutionary way. Not only are all critical data, such as contacts, allergy info, timeline with their activities, tasks and any other relevant information at the provider’s fingertips, but also more than ever before, are the patients themselves involved in their own healthcare in an efficient and convenient way.

Connecting health providers with their patients

Modern customer-oriented healthcare demands a more personalized approach to patients.  For the majority of people, customer service is the key differentiator when choosing a healthcare provider. The Salesforce CRM system is designed specifically to address uniformity and quality of the customer experience with a care provider.  This experience can encompass  case monitoring, task prioritization, information segmentation and real-time communication in order to help deliver better customer satisfaction for every single patient.

All-inclusive view of patient data

The very essence of value-based healthcare is timely and accurate information made accessible from diverse sources. Health Cloud, as a content aggregator, enables professionals to receive exhaustive, multiple-source patient data views. It allows caregivers to gain a deeper insight into every case and, consequently, make effective patient care decisions.

Mobility and real-time communication

Digitalization of every aspect of daily life calls for tech-savvy methods of healthcare management. According to Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Patient” Report, March 2015, 63% of Millennials would be interested in proactively providing their health data captured by “wearable” technology directly to their doctors, so that they can monitor their well-being. Real-time and instant communication between professionals and patients using up -to-date technology demonstrate obvious clinical and financial benefits. Efficient scheduling together with consultation, procedures via phone, email, and live chat improve both practitioner productivity and consumer experience.

Analytics and Advanced Segmentation

Salesforce Health Cloud functionality also provides for more intelligent ways of managing resources, data filtering and segmentation, and risk reduction. Its analytical capabilities utilize both clinical and non-clinical data. It empowers clinicians to create targeted approaches to patients, to automatically identify and calculate risks, and to create unique care plans for every patient.

HIPAA compliance

The management of protected patient data is an especially sensitive issue for the healthcare industry. Health Cloud protects every element with its built-in HIPAA compliance features, including Salesforce Shield, Field Audit Trail, Platform Encryption, Data Archive and Event Monitoring, to satisfy security and privacy for every patient and care provider.

Health Cloud offers a new dimension in the provider-patient relationship with a combination of multiple platform features and resources.  The Salesforce experience starts with your implementation partner. CoreValue provides healthcare/pharmaceutical industry leaders with security-aligned, tailored CRM solutions that enable interoperability, leverage data insight, and improved consumer experience.

Customization Possibilities

We are living in an ever-changing world. And the changes are happening fast. The ability to adapt is key to survival in any sphere. According to Dr. Joshua Newman, Director of Product Management and Health Strategy and Chief Medical Officer at Salesforce, “EHRs aren’t built to be fluid, open and connectible systems that we need today.” As an illustration to these words, the aforementioned report by SGP says that 60 to 75 percent of healthcare organizations are coordinating with third-party providers to augment the functionality offered by EHR systems. This practice can naturally result in some drawbacks, such as poor data readability, increased costs, and management issues, to mention a few.

On the other hand, being a part of the Salesforce platform, Health Cloud offers immense opportunities for customization. Anything from handy reports and informative dashboards, to mobile apps for patients, is possible – and all of them are integrated.

Avenga has gained experience in developing patient engagement applications, whether independent or connected to Salesforce Health Cloud. Our consultants possess expertise to select, offer and implement the appropriate time and resource saving customization solutions for day-to-day tasks and analytics.

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